King’s Day — Formerly Known As Queen’s Day
When: Monday, April 27, 2020
Where: Throughout the Netherlands (Holland, if you will), and all around Amsterdam.
NOTE: It’s a bit too early to book activities, but now is the time to book your hotel. Visitors from all over the Netherlands, and increasingly from abroad book early to ensure rooms are available.
King’s Day — Formerly Queen’s Day1 — is the annual Dutch national holiday in honor of King Willem-Alexander.
Take it from us: If you like parties, make sure your visit to Amsterdam coincides with Monday, April 27, 2020.
Tip: Experiencing King’s Day on a boat is awesome!
King’s Day Weather Forecast
Holland’s unpredictable weather makes for feast of famine (or anything in-between) celebrations. While the city is at its most festive when the sun is out and the weather is warm, overcast skies — with or without some light rain — have never been known to stop us from partying.
Mind you, April weather in Holland is notoriously erratic. Of course at this time nobody knows what the weather forecast for King’s Day 2020 will be.
All we know is that, rain or shine, the party is on!
Joining the party in 2019? Don’t forget to book your hotel way in advance.
Book your hotel early
King’s Day is not marketed outside the Netherlands, but many folks from abroad have discovered this nationwide party anyway. Many now come year after year, vying with the Dutch for hotel rooms. Book your hotel as early as possible!
All of the Netherlands – Biggest party in Amsterdam
On King’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands. However, the most popular destination is Amsterdam where an average of 700.000 visitors join the 822.000+ locals in the world’s largest street party.2
In recent years Amsterdam authorities have actually taken some measures, with success, to try and stem the flow of visitors as the city simply became too full.
For instance: large-scale, DJ and artist-driven events have been moved to the outskirts of the city, where they can be reached via nearby train stations. Plus, you need tickets to get in. The events tend to sell out weeks earlier.
This means there will be fewer ‘herds’ of people thronging and pushing their way through the city on their way to various events, held at squares and other public locations already filled to capacity.
Public Transport during King’s Day
Note that there will be no public transport in the center of Amsterdam during this day. This includes taxis, Uber, ViaVan — and even private cars.
The ferries between Amsterdam Noord and the rest of the city will continue to operate throughout the day.
Buses and trams will continue to operate as well, but in the area indicated above. Most lines that normally pass through the center of town are rerouted during the day. See the map below for an overview of rerouted bus- and tramlines — as well as metro and train station that are closed for the day.
King’s Day Amsterdam Map
In years past the Municipality of Amsterdam published a good city map showing where King’s Day activities were taking place. That map has now been replaced by a web Dutch-language only version that isn’t nearly as useful.
If this is your first Koningsdag, simply head for the center of town. See those yellow lines and numbers on this map? Those are tram- and bus lines. You’ll note there aren’t any in the center and surrounding areas. That’s area where you’ll to be.
Taxis are not allowed to enter the center of Amsterdam either.
If you need to travel to and from your hotel on this day, you’re in for an interesting commute — on foot. (Never, ever let go of your luggage, by the way).
Allow for plenty of time to reach Central Station — or a place where you can catch a taxi, an Uber ride, or a bus to the airport.
See the map below for details.
Large-Scale Music and Dance Events
During King’s Day 2019 there are five large-scale music events on the outskirts of the city.
- Loveland van Oranje — Meerpark
- Oranjebloesem — Pampuslaan (Blijburg aan Zee)
- Kingsland Festival — RAI (Minimum age: 18)
- Oranjebloesem — Olympic Stadium
- Urban Music Festival — Turbinestraat
Want to escape the crowds? Head for the former NDSM wharf: NDSM Vrijhaven bij NDSM-werf (Free).
Frankly, in our opinion it is a lot more fun to experience King’s Day in the center of town than at one of these festivals. Festivals are a dime a dozen nowadays. A city-wide party the way Amsterdammers celebrate it is a once-a-year unique experience. Don’t miss it!
Koningsnacht — The Night Before King’s Day
King’s Day festivities start around midnight and last throughout the night (though official rules state that pubs must close for an hour or so before sunrise).
Simply walk around in downtown Amsterdam (the Jordaan and Nieuwmarkt areas being among the most popular spots) and you’ll find plenty of partying going on.
That said, our advice is that you pace yourself. You’ll want to be more or less sober for the main feast.
King’s Day Daytime Celebrations
6:00 AM marks the start of the ‘free market’ – a street market where half the population sells their bric-a-brac, used clothes, and crafts for next to nothing. Where? Everywhere people live. What? Well, you’ll find anything from broken toys, last year’s King’s Day purchases, and second-hand clothes to fantastic bargains on musical instruments, electronics, software from a bygone era and everything else under the sun.
Throughout the city, professional street performers vie for attention. There are pick-up bands, aspiring opera singers, teenage rappers and street discos. Rio-style drum bands have been very popular the past few years.
In the past, huge concerts were organized at various locations in the city, such as Dam square, Rembrandtplein and Museumplein.
Folks, it’s King’s Day — not Kings Day or Kingsday, just as we never had a Queens Day or Queensday.
In Dutch, however, we say Koningsdag.
But because those free concerts drew too many people to Amsterdam — overwhelming the city, the trains, and the police — nowadays they are a) all located on the outskirts of the city, and b) no longer free.
Why are all these people wearing something orange?
The throngs lining the streets and canals wear orange, the national color (after all, the Queen hails from the House of Orange). Take ‘throngs’ literally – particularly in the city’s center where you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with other revelers.
By way of indication: you can normally saunter from Central Station to Dam Square in about 7 minutes. On Queen’s Day the same distance can take you as much as an hour.
Again: for most of the day, there is no public transport in the center of town. Taxis and private cars will not be able to travel through the center either.
King’s Day on the Canals
If the weather is good (which isn’t always the case) the canals offer little relief as thousands of boats filled with party goers clog the city’s waterways.
In recent years the City of Amsterdam has introduced more and more rules and regulations covering use of the water during King’s Day. Huge barges (and any boat longer than 10 meter), and amplified music are banned, as is carrying more than 1 can or bottle of beer per passenger.
Most canals have one-way traffic only.
The beer flows freely, though mostly in the form of reduced-alcohol ‘event beer,’ which is served in plastic containers that come with a deposit fee.
How to survive King’s Day
- Last celebrated in 2013, Queen’s Day took place on April 30th — in celebration of the birthday of then Queen Beatrix. The name change is due to the fact that in 2013 Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son.
The investiture of Willem-Alexander took place in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day, April 30, 2013. This made him the Netherlands’ first king since 1890.
King’s Day (not Kingsday) is pretty much like Queen’s Day used to be. (Though you’d be surprised how many Dutch people still say Koninginnedag instead of Koningsdag).
But the date has moved from April 30th to April 27th, Willem-Alexander’s birthday. ↩
- Sure, some South American countries have week-long carnival celebrations, but King’s Day ain’t carnival, my friend. ↩
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